By Eleni-Vasiliki Bampaliouta
The Persian Gulf and Red Sea are to be connected by one of the largest railways in the world, at a cost of $250 billion
One of the largest and most expensive projects in the world is being built in the Arabian Peninsula. The Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of six extremely rich Arab countries, is building a 2,000 kilometer railway to connect the region’s states in the best possible way. Crossing the Arabian Desert and creating tunnels in the mountains, the challenges of this project are enormous and perfectly match its cost.
The countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The idea for the magnificent project was born in 2009, while its construction costs will be shared between the countries and will range from 100 to 250 billion dollars.
A key element of this new railway network is the existing modern Etihad railway. It is a $ 1,200 km, $ 11 billion passenger and commercial freight rail line that runs across the Emirates and connects the Gulf of Oman with the Persian Gulf.
A large railway is being prepared in Egypt for a total cost of $ 4.5 billion.
It is expected that the majority of the order will be accounted for in 2022 after the financial agreements have been signed. The approved contract covers the initial 660 km of the planned 1800 km railway network. The railway will also include the Suez Canal.
The 660-kilometer line will connect the port city of Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea with the port city of Marsa Matrouh and Alexandria in the Mediterranean, connecting two cities, including the the Suez Canal. The Egyptian government has an ambitious plan to invest heavily in a state-of-the-art, reliable and sustainable 1,800-kilometer high-speed rail network that will provide efficient, safe and affordable transportation for all Egyptians, as well as freight, across the country.
The two additional railways will connect the Greater Cairo area from the city on October 6 along the Nile River with Aswan and Luxor via Hurghada to Safaga. The entire network will make Egypt a regional leader in transportation, will influence different economic sectors giving an overall boost to the country’s economy. The consortium will immediately create more than 15,000 jobs in Egypt and an additional 3,800, which will be covered by Egyptian suppliers and the wider Egyptian economy.
The connection will carry more than 30 million passengers annually and save up to 50% travel time, a fact which will significantly increase labor productivity, while also connecting Cairo with emerging urban communities. Cairo’s population has doubled in size since 1980 and today some 20 million people call Cairo their home. To alleviate traffic congestion, new cities are currently being developed around the Cairo metropolis.
From Austria to Greece, via Serbia by train.
A state-of-the-art railway is being built in the Eastern Mediterranean. This project will start in Salzburg, Austria and will end in Thessaloniki and Piraeus in Greece; a distance of about 1,600 kilometers. The pan-European highway Corridor X connects central with southern Europe, via Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and North Macedonia.
The Serbian section was completed two years ago at a cost of 400 million euros. The big bet now is to build the railway at the same time. The first modern section of this network will start next month with a train that will reach speeds of 200 kilometers per hour. Serbia is in the phase of complete renewal of its infrastructure, a fact that also benefits Greece, as it facilitates thousands of visitors from all over Europe.
Northern Macedonia and Greece are moving forward on their own part. Investment in trains and railways is the future, not only for transport and traffic management, but also for environmental reasons.